2020 was a difficult year for sport, but White and the UFC thrived after creating Fight Island and ploughing on with stacked cards throughout most of the year.
But now attention has turned to a busy 2021 schedule, and White has given his top three up-and-coming fighters to keep a close eye on in the coming months.
Khamzat Chimaev has been listed as one of Dana White’s biggest up-and-coming UFC talents
White (right) poses with Chimaev, who has won all three UFC bouts in his fledgling career
‘Obviously, Khamzat [Chimaev],’ White said on the SHOUT! The Buffalo Football Podcast. ‘What I love about the kid is that he wants to fight all the time. The guys that are as good as him and want to fight all the time, not everybody wants to fight him, so it’s tough to make fights.
‘You sprinkle some COVID on top of that and here we are. Everybody was asking about him this weekend why he pulled out of the fight. He got COVID. He’s a savage.
‘He tried to get back in the gym and train through it, and I guess his lungs didn’t respond well, so the doctor wants him to take some time off before he trains again. He doesn’t even want him to start training until some time in January. So, you got him.’
Next up, White listed fellow middleweight Kevin Holland, explaining: ‘Another guy like Chimaev [who] wants to fight all the time. The kid went 5-0 in 2020. He’s fun. He’s exciting. Good looking kid.
Joaquin Buckley, pictured celebrating a win over Impa Kasanganay, is another one to watch
Kevin Holland went 5-0 in 2020 and White labelled him ‘fun, exciting and good-looking’
‘And then another one would be Joaquin Buckley, who had in 2020 — not in 2020, but ever — the most viral win ever in UFC history with that knockout that he had.
‘So, I mean those are just three. We’re putting together this piece right now for the Contender Series and the amount of talent that is coming off that show is phenomenal. That’s just three guys out of many.’
Of the three, Chimaev is perhaps the most talked-about fighter after making his UFC debut in one of the first Fight Island cards back in July.
He announced his arrival with a submission victory over John Phillips, and then just 10 days later returned to beat Rhys McKee on the Whittaker-Till card – both times winning a ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus.
In September he fought again, keeping up the momentum with a KO against Gerald Meerchaert in just 17 seconds.
Holland elbows Jacare Souza of Brazil in his December 12 victory at UFC APEX in Las Vegas
Chimaev (right) dispatched of Gerald Meerchaert in 17 seconds in his last fight in September